Opinion: Has the #MeToo movement gone too far?

Comedian Aziz Ansari receives undeserved backlash from social media in the light of recent sexual assault allegations.


Illustration courtesy of Dan Bartholomew

Kristen Grau and Makayla Purvis

Harvey Weinstein, Bill Cosby, Larry Nassar: All sexual predators.


But is the newest addition Aziz Ansari?


In the midst of the rising #MeToo movement, an anonymous Brooklyn photographer, under the pseudonym of Grace, accused actor/comedian Aziz Ansari of sexual assault.


In her story, she recounts how a seemingly perfect date went wrong. After she and Ansari hit it off at a party, and once they went back to his apartment in Manhattan, things took a turn for the worse.  


Within minutes of their first kiss, Grace said, Ansari rushes to grab a condom. Ten minutes later, he suggests she gives him oral sex to which she agrees to perform. So far, so good — right?


But Ansari was in no mood to just chill and watch “Seinfeld,” as Grace said she wanted. After he consistently motioned for Grace to go down on him, she began to feel violated.


Throughout the night, Ansari bombarded her with sexual remarks, including asking her to hop up on the countertop and bend over. He also asked her how exactly she wanted to have sex, to which she replied, “Next time.”


He also repeatedly kissed her and stuck his fingers down Grace’s throat.


Grace thought that maybe the sexual advances from Ansari would stop after he asked if she was OK. He said, “It’s only fun if we’re both having fun.” Yet instead, the advances continued on and off throughout the night.  


Grace expressed her discomfort in such a subtle manner that it raises questions as to whether it was considered sexual assault or not.


Although Grace said she was uncomfortable the entire night, it was hard to tell that she didn’t want to continue because she kept agreeing to go down on him whenever he asked.


She never said no. Instead, she engaged in every sexual act and made him think that it was consensual.


It wasn’t until the very next morning that she texted him and told him that she was uncomfortable with how things went down between them, to which Ansari responded with regret and sincerity.


After the accusation, people took to social media and applauded Grace for her courage to speak up. People even equated Grace’s speaking out to Time’s “Silence Breakers” — but her actions weren’t the same thing.


The U.S. Department of Justice defines sexual assault as “any type of sexual contact or behavior that occurs without the explicit consent of the recipient.” Grace defined it as regretting consensual behavior after the fact.


The #MeToo movement is meant to give survivors of sexual assault a voice. It is not an excuse to demonize every awkward sexual encounter.


“I clearly misread things in the moment,” Ansari texted her back, adding, “and I’m truly sorry.”


This account shines light on two things:


  1. There are serious problems with communication when it comes to sex.
  2. Aziz Ansari is really bad with girls.


It is important to dwell on the former. At most, the whole ordeal was a miscommunication — not assault. Ansari should have picked up on the obvious hints, while Grace should have stopped when she wanted to stop.


However, sharing her story was not a waste of time. This is a vital part of the conversation revolving around the #MeToo movement. This is where women must acknowledge the fact that “there is a whole spectrum between a bumbling, clueless lover, and alleged predators like Weinstein and Trump,” as said by a CNN opinion piece.


The intended purpose of the #MeToo movement is to ensure survivors know they’re not alone in their journey and to enable them to speak out. It is not a movement dedicated to exploiting Hollywood actors, but instead it is dedicated to telling their stories and showing people that maybe some of their beloved actors aren’t who they think they are.


FAU sociological perspectives professor Carrie Hough stated, “I think that the objectives and goals of the #MeToo movement is to provide a platform for people to come forward with their stories in a safe space where their stories can be heard.”


And there is no denying that victims have found sanctuary in the #MeToo movement.


But there is also no denying that some women have tried to worm their way in by crying wolf.


Ansari, a self-proclaimed feminist, told David Letterman that people think, “feminism means, like, some woman’s going to start yelling at them.” #MeToo cannot become that. It has to remain a movement that gives women the ability to speak up about their stories and to work toward ridding society of sexual assault.


What happened to Grace was awful. But it’s not her fault and it’s not Ansari’s. The blame instead should be put on the lack of communication between her and Ansari.


Professor Hough stated that, “There will be backlashes and scandals and attempts to go back to the old ways or dismiss the #MeToo movement, but I think that if the movement really resonates for a population, society will move on in that direction.”


The purpose of the #MeToo movement is to help women like Grace learn how to be able to say no, instead of being silent and engaging in a sexual encounter that they feel pressured into doing. The movement is also to empower women who have been in awkward situations similar to Grace’s and show them that they are not alone.


If the #MeToo movement serves this purpose effectively, then when one woman speaks up and says no, other women around the world can say #MeToo.


Kristen Grau is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected].

Makayla Purvis is a contributing writer with the University Press. For information regarding this or other stories, email mpurvis2017@fau.edu.